Unravel Cancer: Experiences with family battling cancer: March 2011
27 March 2011
21:45   More on cancer grief: letting go, being in the "flow"

I can't begin to describe how amazing my life has become in such a short time. The death of my brother, while hard, has lead to incredible things manifesting in my life.

Truth be told, I forgot to mention in my last post that I felt a lot of loneliness this last week. It was that familiar old "woe is me" despair from the last two years. I'd often feel it after returning from a visit with my mom or my brother. It was me trying to fill a "god-sized hole" with another person, to take the emptiness & loss away.

After a couple days, I realized this, and took steps to get my mind out of that whirlpool, primarily by attending 12-step meetings. It worked, as it always does.

Meanwhile, yesterday was my best running day in 2 years! Or even ever!!

I increased the Cleveland Cascade stairs from 4 laps to 6, with jumping 2-steps on every other lap. Then, I ran up the Merritt Ave. hill _four_ times! Previously I could only do 2 laps. I didn't have to wait as long to recover in between hill laps, and my stamina lasted longer for more of the run up. In 2 weeks time, my body has improved drastically. Mountains - here I come!

But the _best_ was today:

1) Went on a fabulous hike with my mountaineering pals, & got amazing new good advice on the trip. Plus no rain, spectacular views of the ocean from our Santa Cruz mountain trail, and abundant laughter.

2) THEN - I met a lady who answered my ad for needing a housesitter. We talked for an hour & a half because of the amazing serendipity of our lives. She is also getting back into outdoor life with climbing, skiing, and back country stuff. She is _also_ an aspiring writer. AND! She _also_ wants to do a project where she travels a long distance & interviews people for a book...JUST LIKE I'M DOING. We nearly fell off our chairs at the amazing connection. She turned me on to CouchSurfing.org, a place to meet locals while traveling- JUST the thing I need for my trip, as well as, the last 2 months of my time in the bay. Unbelievable.

But it gets better...

3) I just saw in my mailbox a letter from my new neighbors across the driveway. They rented the apartment my old roommate & I recently vacated. (I now live in the building next door). I told them about still getting mail there, & where to stick it. The letter contained my _driver's license_ that I dropped JUST THE DAY BEFORE, while on my run up & down the stairs!!! Can you believe it? I was so heartbroken that I dropped it, and spent 45 minutes retracing my run, scanning the ground like a mad fool.

Blessings to the angel who returned my ID.
Blessings to my new neighbors who stuck it in my mailbox.
Blessings to the housesitting lady who turned me on to the couch surfing community.
Blessings to the three ladies who creatively collaborated with my project while sharing great times in the woods.
Blessings to the heavens for sparing us rain for 6 glorious hours.
Blessings to the cop who didn't stop me while speeding to get on the San Mateo bridge this morning.
Blessings to my old neighbor for inspiring me to step into the universal flow.
Blessings to all people who make this eclectic, incredible, amazing, hectic, beautiful world a place to enjoy!

Onward ho's! (Our new Girl Power Shasta Extravaganza lead-off!)

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07:38   Post-death grief ruminations & life happenings

Life is so rich & full when you're not working. Wow, am I lucky.

On Grief
The grieving process has been relatively smooth. I say that with a bit of tongue in cheek but not much. After losing 2 grandparents in 2008, then the on-going serious of emotional losses with my mom & brother's cancer, this grieving process feels pretty comfortable. On a hike the other day, I told my pal I was becoming a "black belt in letting go". What else can I do at this point? Certainly I don't want to remain miserable.

Another pal who recently lost her mom to cancer, said she went to a grief group at a hospice place in San Francisco. The leader said if your emotions were bouncing around all over the place, you were in a "normal" state of grief. If your emotions got stuck on one in particular, that was a bad sign.

So, my grief is "normal" - woo! Something going my way for a change. The ups & downs have been significant. Many people have offered words of support. Even just going to a poetry reading was supportive. One reader had many poems about her dad getting Alzheimer's. These touched me deeply.

One gal at a get-together I went to last week, mentioned how the grief would get better when I was able to let go of my brother's horrific suffering, and just remember him when he was healthy. She said it might take a long time. This insight was so comforting. When I left the party, I could barely get back to my car before the waterworks hit. It was the first time since I came home from the services where I felt "seen", with all that I brought to the table. That moment was a gift from the heavens.

So, all in all, it's been good. Everything is good, even the tough moments.

Moving on
Meanwhile, I'm full bore into this project to climb several peaks in my brother's honor. I'm been training heavily the last 2 weeks. This helps to elevate my mood, and is giving me a sense of accomplishment.

Part of the trip is interviewing people for their stories of transformation that inspire hope. When I did my first interview the other day, it was like coming home. The delight & joy & honor I felt at witnessing my friend tell her amazing story was overwhelming. Finally, I've moved past having a "career", and into a "calling". I can't begin to describe how lucky I feel.

I'm so thankful that I listened to those primal voices inside urging me to do what was best for me, and the universe opened up to welcome this manifestation.

So stay tuned for more on this project. The webpage will be up in a couple weeks. I'll also be hopefully getting a kickstarter page for the fundraising. It's gonna be fantastic!

Now, off to hike 3 hours in the beautiful Santa Cruz mountains. My mountaineering pal who's been on Denali told me, "Embrace suffering. Get used to it. Invite it in, bathe in it." I've already had so much emotional suffering, that physical suffering is a welcome change of pace.


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15 March 2011
23:33   Paradise in a Chevy Malibu

The clearly overdressed woman glided down to the second floor baggage claim on the escalator, and saw a man holding a welcome sign with her Twitter handle. She smiled at the perfectness of it all.

Stripping off her hat & scarf in the muggy Orlando airport, they hugged.

"You brought the good weather with you," he said.

"I know. Do you know how many strings I had to pull to make that happen? You're welcome anyway." the woman replied flashing a smile that said mischief, charm, & grace all at once.

And thus began my journey to visit @bbryon (Bryon Beck) in Orlando after my brother passed away. We became internet friends last summer during the Stanley Cup for Cancer project. Until my arrival at the airport, we had never met face to face before.

Despite this, and the great mileage between us, Bryon has been a dear friend, a great support, and a stalwart hockey buddy through the last 9 months. As much as modern internet technology can keep a person alone at their desk, tapping away, it didn't work in this case. It was just wonderful to have a real, live face to put with the voice on the phone I heard for so many months.

Bryon was a gracious host. He could see the shellshocked look on my face when I arrived. He just let me be. Giving me space was exactly what I needed. The first morning I simply couldn't wake up. I was simply exhausted. We sat around a lot & watched movies & ate nachos. Finally, we made it to the beach, late Sunday afternoon after a debilitating trip to Walmart for an emergency swimsuit for me. Walmart is bad enough, but adding bathing suit shopping on top of it is agony.

At the beach, I ate crappy bar food then learned how to body surf. I did yoga on the sand, & sat & meditated to the sound of the waves. The salty ocean water in my hair felt great. The never-ending sandy crust on my skin was divine. Bryon even let me convince him to play putt-putt golf at the gator petting zoo place! Yes, I held a baby gator, and it didn't pee on me. I'm gifted with animals.

Other highlights included watching lots of hockey on an HD TV (it was pretty fantastic, I must admit), going to the Tampa Bay v Devils game (see photo above), and riding the Islands of Adventure rides to the point of nearly puking. The Dueling Dragons rollercoasters were our favorite. We agreed the blue one was best in the back, and the red one was best up front.

Bryon is not shy with his words, and neither am I so we did a lot of talking. This was actually the real highlight for me. We talked about life, about loss, about relationships, about guns, about work, about character, about integrity, and even about boogers. Well, it was mostly me that talked about boogers. It comes up a lot for me because I have a ton of them.

The weather was warm & sunny. The sky was light blue with big cotton ball clouds cruising all over the sky, absorbing & splitting off like feather-weight bumper cars. Despite Bryon's _insistence_ so, there was some truth to the paradise cliche.

The leather, saggy flesh of the retirees in his complex, shattered that notion, however. C'est la vie. One can't have it _all_, truly, now can one?

All kidding aside, it wasn't the weather or the rollercoasters, or the gator wrangling or the hockey that made it paradise. It was the friendship. It was being able to bounce something off someone & get a fresh perspective. It was being held in a calm & serene space without even having to be touched. It was knowing I had a shoulder to cry on, if I needed it. It was knowing we weren't going to talk about my woeful misfortune the whole dang time, but actually talk about fun stuff. It was delighting that someone was excited to show me around his neighborhood. It was the horrible puns & silly jokes we tossed at each other.

As I put my feet on the dash of Bryon's white Chevy Malibu hardtop ("I like to blend in", says Bryon), on our way to Tampa Bay for live hockey, I knew I really was in paradise. Thank you, @bbryon!

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about this blog

I'm a 30-something professional woman who's mother & brother were both diagnosed with Grade 3 Astrocytoma tumors within about a week of each other. My mother's tumor is in her brain, and my brother's tumor is in his spinal cord, causing him to lose feeling in his arms & legs. These writings are about my experiences dealing with them, coping, loving them, loving myself, and living my life knowing that they are both dying. I hope you find inspiration and courage from my writings to help you get through whatever is going on in your life.

Lady Vroom


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